Pulitzer Prize, Biography/Autobiography, 2002In this powerful, epic biography, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough unfolds the adventurous life-journey of John Adams, the brilliant, fiercely independent, often irascible, always honest Yankee patriot who spared nothing in his zeal for the American Revolution. Adams thought, wrote, and spoke out for the "Great Cause" come what might; he traveled far and wide in all seasons and often at extreme risk; he rose to become the second president of the United States and saved the country from blundering into an unnecessary war; he was rightly celebrated for his integrity, and regarded by some as "out of his senses"; and his marriage to the wise and valiant Abigail Adams is one of the most moving love stories in American history.
Much about Adams' life will come as a surprise to many. His rocky relationship with friend and eventual archrival Thomas Jefferson, his courageous voyage on the frigate Boston in the winter of 1778, and his later trek over the Pyrenees are exploits few would have dared and that few listeners will ever forget.
McCullough's John Adams has the sweep and vitality of a great novel. This is history on a grand scale, an audiobook about politics, war, and social issues, but also about human nature, love, religious faith, virtue, ambition, friendship, and betrayal, and the far-reaching consequences of noble ideas. Above all, it is an enthralling, often surprising story of one of the most important and fascinating Americans who ever lived.
©2001 David McCullough; (P)2001 Recorded Books, All Rights Reserved; AUDIOWORKS is an imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster Inc.
"Brilliant...a winner." (Publishers Weekly)
"McCullough writes to be heard as well as read." (AudioFile)
David McCullogh's biography of John Adams is an outstanding book about an outstanding man. This is one of the finest biographies I have read or listened to. By the end of the book I felt like I knew John Adams - both his outstanding strengths and his human frailties. I came away with a far better appreciation for Adams and his role in the birth of America than I had previously. The book also provides fascinating glimpses into the other strong personalities of the time, including Hamilton, Franklin and Washington, but most especially Jefferson. It is written beautifully and is so enjoyable to listen to that I was a bit sad when it ended. I strongly recommend this great work.
This is the rare history narrative doesn't rely on those dry-as-dust facts that were droned into our adolescent brains to ensure we never discovered the magic of history. This book is fascinating and informative.
There was no sense that McCullough took undue license as a historian in portraying the people of the time; every characterization was fleshed out with an amazing array of letters, love-notes, journals, documents and receipts.
I listened to the unabridged version but I would have enjoyed it more if it were even longer. In the end, I've untangled the screwy chronology I've had in my head regarding America's break from England and have a new admiration for the patriots of the time.
Whether a reader prefers fiction (for the love of a good story) or history this book will more than satisfy. Also, it was very well read.
The author has carved out his niche as an historical biographer of great skill, so it is reasonable to come to expect much from him; he does not fail to deliver in this book. Having said that, this book should be judged as a journey into the soul of the subject and not an adventure or a novel - it is not and was not intended to be an edge-of-the-seat experience.
The narrator does an excellent job of portraying the various characters with just enough inflection to make the transitions comfortable and while there may be some exposure of his breathing in the reading it is not irritating. It is obvious that the narrator was "in" to the story, and we can always appreciate that!
The book itself offers the listener an intimate perspective of the Adams in a way that you certainly will not find in a text book or in the standard biography. That John Adams was one of the individuals to place their hands upon history and influence the world is beyond question, and this book offers us the opportunity to drink deeply of the character of the man, giving a clear and unobstructed view of his motives.
In an era in which the actions of the founding fathers are often called into question or are intentionally recast with less than faithful attention to the facts it is all the more important to have works like this to set the record straight. McCullough has no axe to grind, and has held himself to the unusually high standards he adopted for his previous works.
If you are seeking knowledge and wish to understand an important man and important events from the past, this book is one you will regret not experiencing. If you are seeking to be constantly entertained and to have plot and subplot move in fluid motion, perhaps you will find Patrick O'Brian's historical fiction more to your liking.
I found the book to be engaging, easy to follow, and pleasant to listen to in small or large chunks, and I believe you will too. It earned the five stars it received from me.
Max Fisher of Rushmore Academy
I'd never found John Adams to be a very interesting figure, and bought this book purely on the strength of McCollough's '1776'.
I had no idea how deeply engrossing the story of John Adams' life would be, nor how adeptly McCollough would manage to tell it. This is a shockingly thorough work of tested, evidence-based history, objectively presented.
I can't say enough to recommend this book to anybody interested in understanding the multi-dimensional political and diplomatic drama running in parallel to the military drama of the American Revolution, as well as the often awkward foundations of our two party system; all told through the life of an unusually likable and relateable man (as well as his remarkable wife and son).
trying to see the world with my ears
While I know my Canadian and British 18th century history, before I listened to this, my knowledge of the U.S. in that period came from pop culture and sixth grade. This broadened my understanding and interested me in downloading more McCullough and U.S. history. Any book that invites nonAmericans to do so is good for the world!
Although long for nonfiction, the listen compares very favourably to a novel. However, I think McCullough strikes a balance between documentation and narrative that is easy on the ears but still seems to present sound history. The book draws on much more than the charming correspondance between the Adams' mentioned in the publisher's blurb. My head spins when I think of how McCullough combined sources to come up with this portrait.
I did not mind the narrator as did some other listeners -- He did sound a bit corny, but he read with enthusiasm for and appreciation of his material.
Enjoyed this book very much and was delighted to get to know John Adams, his family and his life. At times it seemed like the politics of today but then, at other times, I felt transported back to the late 1700's and learned a great deal about life in those days. As always, I am happy to be living in this time but equally happy to learn so much about life long ago. Well written, keeps your attention throughout the entire book (for the most part) and wonderfully narrated.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
While I was listening to this book, John Adams and his family came to live with me. I was so absorbed in the history, I thought about it even when I wasn't listening. I am impressed with McCullough's skill at bringing history to life. It's a fascinating time with relevance to today. The time and thought put into the Constitution should never be taken for granted. Also, the knowledge of these people and their efforts to continually educate themselves and engage their intellectual lives is beyond anything we see today. While this will appeal to history buffs, I highly recommend it for anyone interested in people's lives and an in depth view of the minds of brilliant people.
Listening to American history from David McCullough's perspective is like hearing it from ones grandfather or trusted friend. I often find myself sitting in my car in the garage for long periods of time - after I have arrived home, not wanting to "put the book down". As far as I am concerned DM is the finest American historian of our age! Fair and without agenda this is the way it is supposed to be written.
No plot spoilers
I completely enjoyed all aspects of this audio book. The narrator was engaging and his voice was pleasant to listen to for the many hours required. The writing style drew me in and I became enthralled with each small detail revealed about the lives of John and Abigail and the early American and European life depicted. I have gone on to read several books of Abigail's letters with great pleasure. This was an excellent, life affirming, and positive experience. Thank you Audible!
If your memory of American History is like mine, Adams sort of gets sandwiched in between Washington and Jefferson. David McCullough sets out to change all that in this sweeping biography of the great and humble leader. After gaining an understanding through this book of how important Adams was to the success of the great American experiment in democracy, I felt that he should be carved on Rushmore right up there with the other founding fathers.
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